Paige Hemmis

Season Finale: Here's to the Heroes

This week was all about heroes - in every sense of the word. From the firefighters and rescue workers who worked tirelessly after Katrina hit, to those moms, dads and grandmothers who returned home to help rebuild a destroyed land. Our show was a tribute and thank you to these heroes, and heroes everywhere who change our lives, never rest even when times are tough, who aim so high despite danger, and who ultimately allow freedom to survive simply by "doing." For the final show of the season, and to finish off our 50 state tour, we ended up in the great state of Louisiana. New Orleans is the home of jazz and many great musicians of our time, and also home of one of the most devastating natural disasters in our country. As so many people fled the area when Katrina hit, there were so many heroes that stayed back and stepped up when others needed them. One such family was the Usea family, who lost so much during the storm. Instead of focusing on their loss, however, they continued t... read more

The Giunta Family

Life is precious. Life can change in an instant and it did for this familytwo years ago. The story of the Giunta family this week hit me so hardwhile we were there just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and now it hitsme again as I reflect on this family. It is a story of hope, of faith, ofloyalty and a story of life - changing in an instant.Last week, in my hometown of Los Angeles, CA, I was involved in a seriouscar accident. A drunk driver hit my friend's car in which I was apassenger. I was trapped in the car and had to be removed with some prettyheavy machinery. My friend was ok, and I, thankfully, was not harmed toobadly. I had to spend some time in the hospital. I have two fractured ribs,a broken wrist, and bruises everywhere. I was extremely lucky. Noteveryone who gets in a car accident this bad is able to walk away and PaulGiunta is a perfect example of this. Two years ago, on the day that Paul'swife, Renee, gave birth to their first daughter, Paul was driving their twoboys ... read more

The Martinez Family

Brrrr! Hard to think of below-freezing temperatures now that spring has sprung, but back in winter when we visited the Martinez family in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it was cold! I set down my coffee one day on my way into the framed house to do a "walk through" for the camera. I was gone probably 45 minutes, and when I came back to my coffee, it was frozen!It was a solid block of coffee! So that may give you an idea of how hard it was to build a house in seven days in such chilly temps. Ty, Michael, Paul, Ed and I packed on the heavy jackets and headed out to meet the Martinez family. Being around this family is like being in the presence of love and devotion. This family loves their community, and is devoted to one another and the people that surround them. This might not seem like a unique quality, until you realize that the community that they love is one of hardship and strife. This family was living in the mountains of Colorado and just a few years ago, decided to give up everyth... read more

The Gilyeat Family

Vroooooom! This week was FAST! And not just "fast" in the sense thatthe week went smoothly, but "fast" in the literal sense of the word. I gotto drive FAST! Ty, Eduardo, Johnny, Rib and I headed out to Kansas City, Kansas for thefirst time in our show's history. We've been to Kansas City before, butit has always been in Missouri. Although it was our first time on theKansas side, it was our third time with our famous builder, Kevin Green. Now, Kevin and his team really know how to do it right, from lavish partiesto tractor-trailers with Kevin's picture 20 feet high! Knowing we were inhis hands made us truly enjoy our week. We surprised the Gilyeat family — Daniel Gilyeat and his four youngchildren. Daniel is a hero in every sense of the word. He is a greatdad, and made a huge sacrifice for our country when he fought in the war. Unfortunately that fight left him with only one leg — his HUMVEE was hitby an IED during combat. You think that an injury like this might stop him,... read more

The Luther Family

When you think of Maryland, what comes to mind? The seashore? The naval base? The port? That is what came to mind when I pictured Maryland — what I didn't expect to find was rolling hills and horse farms… thousands and thousands of acres of farms! It was so unexpected and so gorgeous! Ty, Eduardo, Ed, Rib and I looked out the windows of the bus over never-ending rolling hills, bridges, scenic waterways and beautiful farms. We knew it was going to be a great week.We surprised the Luther family, and quickly got them on their way to vacation. The Luther family runs a therapeutic horse-riding facility called Rolling Hills. They have touched so many people's lives, and we got the opportunity to meet some of these courageous people. From young children to adults, ranging in disabilities from debilitating diseases to spinal cord injuries, we got the chance to see how the simple act of riding a horse can help in unimaginable ways. We learned so much — how riding a horse can... read more

The Chapin Family

It always comes down to the wire — will we or will we not finish in seven days? Most of the time we do — most of the time, that is. Without going into too much detail (you will just have to watch!), I will tell you that Washington definitely lived up to its reputation of being a very rainy state. It rained, and rained, and rained some more. This build definitely had its share of challenges! The Building Industry Association of Washington led by their President, Daimon Doyle, our builder, was great and constantly fought mother nature to get this house done for the Chapin family. And when I say "constantly," I truly mean it. Everyone rallied together to get this house done ­— designers (Ty, Michael, Paul, Johnny and myself), everyone on the crew, the town of Kirkland, the local government, and of course, the entire state. And it was worth it! The Chapin family is so deserving. Connie, a single mom, is raising four children to be incredibly giving, and hard working ... read more

The Vitale Family

The families we meet from week to week are not only unique and deserving, but some go beyond "unique" to depths of amazing, wonderful, giving, incredible — I could go on and on!Ty, Michael, Tanya, Rib and I headed northwest to the beautiful state of Vermont to meet the Vitale family. On the bus on the way to the Vitale home, we learned that this family had its share of trials and tribulations. What we did not expect, however, is how amazing and wonderful this family would be, in spite of everything they have experienced. They came out of the door and we were met with such beautiful spirits. They are the kind of people that you feel like you have known for years ¬— like you are immediately a part of their family. They are amazing!For me, the best part of the week was my visit to "David's House," ¬a home for families with sick children in the nearby hospital. But why did we go there? First of all, the reason we went to David's House, was because the family asked ... read more

100th Episode

This Sunday's episode is huge in so many ways! Two great hours, nine endearing families, and one amazing story as we head into our 100th episode. Can you believe it? ONE HUNDRED EPISODES! One hundred families, 100 stories, 100 homes, 100 hundred builders, 100 communities, and 100 truly amazing experiences and countless memories that we will all cherish for the rest of our lives. I remember starting on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition five years ago on Season One. I debuted on the fourth show ever made, long before we were ever on the airwaves of ABC. We all had no idea what we were in store for, we were just another reality television show at a time when "reality shows" meant fighting, back-stabbing, eating bugs and competing against one another for prizes.Here we were, trying to make a difference with very little help. We had to beg people to volunteer to help us, and pray that we could stay up several nights in a row to complete a home in seven days. On my first show, we remodeled a... read more

The Miller Family

Our week in Wyoming was great. Ty, Eduardo, John, myself and our new guy, Rib, had a great time out in the rolling fields of Cheyenne, helping the Miller family. This family was stuck in a home that was physically hurting the family — levels of radon gas that were way above the dangerous limit. They didn't have the money to rebuild or to move. They were stuck. So to us, demolishing this house meant great things for this family. Kaboom! Get ready for the biggest, baddest, loudest, craziest demolition that you have ever seen on the show — so big that we all had to stand no closer than 300 yards away. Even from 300 yards away, you could feel the earth move, you felt the heat of the fireball, and parts of the demolished house came floating down out of the sky. That's right, for the first time in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition history, we actually blew up a house. Although the exact number of sticks of dynamite changes depending on the person you ask, I think we had over 300 st... read more

The Brown Family

Bridgeport, Connecticut: At 5:55 pm the bus moved and one, two, three family members hit the pavement, while the fourth did a back flip. It could be the hardest I have cried in the five seasons of the show — well, happy tears that is. It was the kind of cry where I couldn't breathe, where I didn't even realize that tears were streaming down my face until I noticed my shirt was wet. And just when I started to feel self-conscious about my sobs, I looked to my left and looked to my right and noticed the entire crowd crying with me. Michael stood to my right, tears streaming down his face as well. To be there, on that small street in a small town in Connecticut, the energy was palpable. We all felt the happiness of this one amazing family as they first viewed the rest of their lives and the continuation of their dreams. The Brown family has been through a lot — probably more than most of us will ever experience in our lifetime. When most people would be complaining about what ... read more

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